LTO enforcer questions Kidapawan vice mayor’s ‘meddling’

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews / 25 July) – An operative of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) in Region 12 has questioned the authority of the vice mayor here for allegedly interfering in their law enforcement operations they conducted along the Kidapawan-Makilala highway early this month.

In a copy of a report furnished to media on Tuesday, Bonifacio Dalawan, leader of the Law Enforcement Team from LTO 12, said Vice Mayor Bernardo Piñol Jr. arrived at the area around 10:50 a.m. on July 7 while they were issuing temporary operator’s permit (TOP) to traffic violators they apprehended during the highway inspection.

Dalawan, in his incident report submitted to LTO-12 regional director Macario Gonzaga, said Piñol allegedly confronted his group about the issued TOPs and told them to “humanize” the implementation of the traffic laws.

He quoted the vice mayor as saying: “The lack of brake lights and side mirrors are minor violations only, so there must be a consideration. Thus, you have to humanize the law.”

Dalawan added that while he was explaining to Piñol, one of their operatives identified as Al Walid Bascara apprehended a motorist who failed to present a driver’s license.

To make a point, the LTO operative presented to the vice mayor the erring motorist and said, “Here is a driver who did not carry a license for driving, and thus he must be penalized.”

To Dalawan’s surprise, Piñol ordered the driver to execute 10 pushups instead of allowing the LTO law enforcement team to impound the motorcycle as a consequence of his traffic violation.

“After the driver finished his pushups, Vice Mayor Piñol ordered him released. Before we could react, the driver already left the place,” lamented Dalawan.

What the vice mayor did, according to Dalawan, “denied our team to impound the motorcycle as a consequence of the apprehension and as a matter of procedure under the law.”

On July 13 or a week after the law enforcement operation, the Sangguniang Panlungsod passed a resolution prohibiting LTO 12 personnel from conducting highway inspection because such would adversely affect the economic activities and the flow of commerce in the city.

The resolution added that the LTO 12 regional office should have considered “human aspects” in their operations, such as lessening the fines or giving a warning as initial penalty to the violators.

For his part, Piñol admitted having questioned the LTO’s law enforcement operations but clarified he did this because he pitied the poor tricycle and van drivers who were penalized “excessively” for their violations.

“These people [LTO personnel] are sadists. They look at the people here as violators. We have no perfect vehicle [plying the highway]. This is situational. It’s different when you’re in Manila and when you’re in the province,” said Piñol.

In an interview over the Catholic-run DXND on Tuesday, Piñol he wanted the traffic code amended and that the penalties for traffic violators from the province, like in North Cotabato, would be lesser as compared to those in big cities, like Manila. (Malu Cadelina Manar / MindaNews)